Sydney, Australia

Not five minutes into my arrival from Port Moresby back to Brisbane, I literally faceplant in exhaustion while trying to catch a train. I get up and run in, with bloodied hands and knees, and laugh it off.

Adrenaline keeps me going in a brief reunion with Vyvian. Oh, the novelty of having a lovely restaurant meal with a friend again! Of a beautiful Saturday morning market stroll! Of a haircut to finally feel fresh again! Of an afternoon enjoying the sunshine and the skyline view from South Bank!

It lasts until I drag myself to the airport, endure yet another delayed flight, then onto Sydney, where I’m unable to buy a transit card with no credit card until I plead with an attendant to use hers and I repay her in cash. It’s hard to get by in an increasingly cashless society when your stuff is stolen. I’m tired.

Sydney is one of the world’s most famous and livable cities, renowned for its beauty. You come here for the Harbour and Opera House, of course. And in this week in particular, the Women’s World Cup, with the whole country rallying for the Matildas.

Yet at this point, a week from the end, all I want is a taste of home.
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 Brisbane, Australia

Bleary-eyed after a 13-hour flight, I go for a walk in West End and end up on Granville St, eventually turning onto Boundary. After braving the brunch lineup at a hip café for a delicious meal and coffee, I top up my TransLink card at a train station, before opting to walk some more to the nearby waterfront for a ferry ride instead. The weather’s spectacular as I watch the glistening glass towers of downtown disappear in the distance. I disembark by a park, and walk along a pedestrian path bisected by a bike lane, surrounded by picnickers on this lovely Sunday afternoon. After some more aimless wandering, the sun’s going down and I’m hungry. I head to the night market — packed as usual, full of people speaking everything including Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, French, and the like.

If it weren’t for the cars running down the wrong side of the road, if it weren’t for the accent… I may as well have been describing a lovely summer weekend at home. Oh yeah, it’s winter here.

Brisbane may be on the other side of the world, but the similarities to Vancouver don’t end there. Both are the third-largest cities of their respective countries. Both have a metro population of roughly 2.5 million. Both have a vacation-friendly Sunshine Coast about an hour away. And for whatever reason, both cities like to thank their bus drivers when disembarking. I think that’s great.
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